A National Journal piece on Ted Cruz's edging towards a 2016 presidential run rubbed me the wrong way on a couple of levels.
The first was his looking for a “sweet spot” between the reluctance of Rand Paul to use military action (“Isolationism” is the overstated pejorative of choice) and the lets-bomb-the-bleeps neocon activism of John McCain. That sweet spot sounds quite a bit like the old triangulation of Bill Clinton, finding a politically winsome spot between factions.
The other problematic part of his prose was a disdain of national building.
"If and when military action is called for, it should be A) with a clearly defined military objective, B) executed with overwhelming force, and C) when we're done we should get the heck out," he said. "I don't think it's the job of our military to engage in nation-building. It is the job of our military to protect America and to hunt down and kill those who would threaten to murder Americans. It is not the job of our military to occupy countries across the globe and try to turn them into democratic utopias."
Our ISIS problem largely flows out of a lack of finishing the job in Iraq and letting friction between the Maliki Shia government and Sunnis in the west go unchaperoned. ISIS then swooped in to champion the Sunnis feeling hung out to dry by the US and Baghdad.
No, we can’t shoot for a utopia, which is a cheap shot on Cruz’s part. But we at least can try to shoot for places where people aren’t losing their heads for being of the wrong religion faction.
For a guy who is supposed to be a “Value Voter” favorite, he seems to have a low value of the least of these overseas who could use our help. Our misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq have created a bear market on neocon stock and should cause us to pick our spots much more carefully going forward, but merely bombing the worse actors back to the Stone Age and get outa Dodge may not be a workable answer to our foreign policy issues.
The piece makes Cruz sound a bit too much of a Pat Buchanan-style paleocon on foreign policy for my taste.